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Thread: Does regular physical exercice really increase life expectancy?

  1. #1
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    Question Does regular physical exercice really increase life expectancy?

    The World Health Organization says that insufficient physical activity is one of the leading risk factors for death and recommends that adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. They go even further, claiming that for additional health benefits, adults should increase their moderate-intensity physical activity to 300 minutes per week.

    I was making a map showing the percentage of adults practising sports, fitness or other recreational physical activities at least once a week (see below) when it dawned on me that there is actually no correlation between life expectancy and regular physical exercice.








    As you can see, countries where people live the longest are France, Switzerland, Italy and Spain for women, and Switzerland, Italy, Israel and Iceland for men.

    I wondered if that could be because Nordic/Germanic people only started being so physically active in the last few decades and that life expectancy could therefore have started at a lower point than in Latin countries, but might be on its way to catch up and overtake them? In other words, Latins may have had a head start thanks to better diets and climate, but once modern lifestyle allows a more varied diet, regular holidays in the sun and plenty of physical exercice for northerners, the gap would shrink and Nordics would eventually live longer.

    To verify this, I checked the evolution of life expectancy (OECD data) in Nordic vs Latin countries + Greece.

    Country 1970 2015 Increase % of weekly PA
    Spain 72.00 years 83.00 years +11.00 years 46%
    Iceland 74.00 years 82.50 years +8.50 years 70%
    France 72.20 years 82.40 years +10.20 years 49%
    Italy 72.00 years 82.60 years +10.60 years 26%
    Norway 74.40 years 82.40 years +8.00 years 70%
    Sweden 74.80 years 82.30 years +7.50 years 71%
    Portugal 66.70 years 81.20 years +14.50 years 35%
    Greece 73.80 years 81.10 years +7.50 years 23%
    Denmark 73.30 years 80.80 years +7.50 years 74%

    The data shows that the opposite is true. Countries that don't exercice too much, including Italy and Portugal, gained the most years of life expectancy. Nordic countries and Greece gained the least years of life expectancy. Danish people exercice the most and have the lowest life expectancy in these countries.

    There are of course many factors influencing life expectancy. Regarding nutrition, Italian, Swedish and Norwegian people drink the least alcohol, and Portuguese the most. Yet the Portuguese got the bigger boost in life expectancy. The highest meat consumption per capita in Europe is in Spain, while Norway has one of the lowest. Yet Spaniards live longer. Sweden has a lot of vegetarians, while Portugal and Spain hardly have any. Ditto. Obesity is higher in France and Spain than in Scandinavia. Diabetes is the highest in Portugal among the countries listed above.

    Cancer rates have no influence of regional variations in life expectancy either. They are high in Denmark, moderate in Norway and low in Sweden, relatively high in France, moderate in Italy and Portugal and low in Spain. Heart disease rates are not very different between these countries and are actually lower in Denmark than in Italy.

    You can check all the health-related maps of Europe I made. There is just no simple way to explain why Latin Europeans increased their life expectancy faster than Nordic people. The best correlation seems to be the evolution of GDP per capita, but money itself does not make people live longer. It must be correlated with something that increase together with wealth. Yet Nordic countries are on top of almost every measurable aspect of well being in Europe. They are the happiest, have the highest Human Development Index, the best democracies, the lowest socio*economic inequalities, the best education and welfare systems, exercice the most... But even projections for life expectancy say that the Danes are not going to overtake the Italians, French, Spaniards or even Portuguese for life expectancy in the coming decades. The question is why?
    Last edited by Maciamo; 05-09-20 at 13:00.
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    Interesting topic. I think there are also more drug and mental health-related deaths in Northern European countries, with people dying at a very young age, which might skew the statistics slightly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bygdedweller View Post
    Interesting topic. I think there are also more drug and mental health-related deaths in Northern European countries, with people dying at a very young age, which might skew the statistics slightly.
    I hadn't thought about that. Suicide rates are not particularly high in Scandinavia and are in fact lower than in France or Belgium. The hot spots for suicide in Europe are Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus and Ukraine. I looked up drug-related deaths rates and they are highest in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Baltic countries, followed by Norway and Finland. So that may be a factor, except that Norway has the highest life expectancy in Scandinavia and Denmark and Sweden have less problems with drug deaths.

    Anyway, the best way to determine is people dying at a young age affect life expectancy is to compare life expectancy at birth, at 45 years old and at 65 years old.


    Life expectancy at 45 years old (years of life remaining) - 2015

    Iceland : 37.1 years
    Norway : 36.9
    Italy : 36.7
    France : 36.5
    Spain : 36.2
    Sweden : 36.2
    Denmark : 35.3
    Greece : 35.2
    Portugal : 34.7


    Life expectancy at 65 years old (years of life remaining) - 2019

    France : 23.8 years
    Spain : 23.5
    Italy : 22.8
    Portugal : 22.0
    Greece : 21.9
    Norway : 21.7
    Iceland : 21.7
    Sweden : 21.6
    Denmark : 20.7

    Oddly, life expectancy in all Scandinavian countries goes down sharply at 65 compared to 45 years old. Greece and Portugal, which ranked last at 45 years old, overtake all Scandinavian countries at 65 years old. Iceland and Norway, which were on top, fall below all Latin countries and Greece. I am baffled as to how to explain that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    I hadn't thought about that. Suicide rates are not particularly high in Scandinavia and are in fact lower than in France or Belgium. The hot spots for suicide in Europe are Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus and Ukraine. I looked up drug-related deaths rates and they are highest in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Baltic countries, followed by Norway and Finland. So that may be a factor, except that Norway has the highest life expectancy in Scandinavia and Denmark and Sweden have less problems with drug deaths.

    Anyway, the best way to determine is people dying at a young age affect life expectancy is to compare life expectancy at birth, at 45 years old and at 65 years old.


    Life expectancy at 45 years old (years of life remaining) - 2015

    Iceland : 37.1 years
    Norway : 36.9
    Italy : 36.7
    France : 36.5
    Spain : 36.2
    Sweden : 36.2
    Denmark : 35.3
    Greece : 35.2
    Portugal : 34.7


    Life expectancy at 65 years old (years of life remaining) - 2019

    France : 23.8 years
    Spain : 23.5
    Italy : 22.8
    Portugal : 22.0
    Greece : 21.9
    Norway : 21.7
    Iceland : 21.7
    Sweden : 21.6
    Denmark : 20.7

    Oddly, life expectancy in all Scandinavian countries goes down sharply at 65 compared to 45 years old. Greece and Portugal, which ranked last at 45 years old, overtake all Scandinavian countries at 65 years old. Iceland and Norway, which were on top, fall below all Latin countries and Greece. I am baffled as to how to explain that.
    Maciamo can one factor be this?

    https://edition.cnn.com/2018/09/06/h...ntl/index.html

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Northener View Post
    I thought about this too. The Mediterranean diet is essentially a high consumption of fish, vegetables, fruits, and olive oil. Iceland has actually the world's highest fish consumption per capita after the Maldives. Icelanders eat almost 4x more fish than Italians and 5x more than Greeks.

    Iceland : 90 kg of fish per year
    Portugal : 57 kg
    Norway 53 kg
    Spain : 42 kg
    France : 34 kg
    Sweden : 31 kg
    Italy 25 kg
    Denmark : 23 kg
    Israel : 20 kg
    Greece : 19 kg
    Switzerland : 17 kg

    The so-called Mediterranean diet refers especially to Central/South Italian and Greek cuisine. North Italy consumes more meat, especially unhealthy cured meat and less fish. But ironically Italy and Greece, and even Israel which is also Mediterranean, consume less fish than Scandinavian countries as well as France and Spain, which are mostly non-Mediterranean, and Portugal.

    Men who live the longest are in order: the Italians, Icelanders, Swiss, Israeli, Swedes... Apart from Iceland, these are not countries with huge fish consumptions.

    South European do consume more vegetables, but not the French or Swiss, who have also very high life expectancies.

    Olive oil consumption is higher in Southern Europe, but the French, Swiss and Danes have about the same consumption, and not much higher than Norway and Sweden.

    I noticed before that sunnier countries like Malta, Cyprus and Israel, but also Australia, Mexico and Costa Rica, have higher scores for happiness than otherwise expected by other factors. I was wondering if living in a sunny country could not also have a positive effect on survival in old age. Cyprus and Malta have the highest number of sunshine hours per year in Europe (over 3000 hours, about the same as Miami and Los Angeles). Israeli cities get over 3,300 hours of sunshine, more than anywhere in Eurasia apart from the United Arab Emirates and Oman. Even in Australia only two cities (Perth and Darwin) get over 3000 hours of sunshine.

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    Its a lot more complicated than that. Yes, exercise plays a role in things like reduction of LDL, injury prevention, and your Vo2 Max/high metabolic active tissues. Diet will help with glucose regulation, immunity, reduction of oxidative stress, ect.

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    D vitamine should play an important role. It's maybe more important than the diet itself. Interesting topic.

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    No. Thats like saying 1/4th is more important than the whole. -

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    Quote Originally Posted by New Englander View Post
    No. Thats like saying 1/4th is more important than the whole. -
    Why? D vitamin doesn't come only from food.

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    Its just 1 micro-nutrient. lay out in the sun expecting to be in above average health while being sedentary and having poor nutrition.

    Otherwise the CDC would designate the number 1 cause of morbidity or highest risk factor as lack of sunlight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by New Englander View Post
    Its just 1 micro-nutrient. lay out in the sun expecting to be in above average health while being sedentary and having poor nutrition.

    Otherwise the CDC would designate the number 1 cause of morbidity or highest risk factor as lack of sunlight.
    Well, I would have a few arguments for a decent constructive discusion but your tone indicates that we're not going that way. All the best.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    The World Health Organization says that insufficient physical activity is one of the leading risk factors for death and recommends that adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. They go even further, claiming that for additional health benefits, adults should increase their moderate-intensity physical activity to 300 minutes per week.

    I was making a map showing the percentage of adults practising sports, fitness or other recreational physical activities at least once a week (see below) when it dawned on me that there is actually no correlation between life expectancy and regular physical exercice.

    As you can see, countries where people live the longest are France, Switzerland, Italy and Spain for women, and Switzerland, Italy, Israel and Iceland for men.

    I wondered if that could be because Nordic/Germanic people only started being so physically active in the last few decades and that life expectancy could therefore have started at a lower point than in Latin countries, but might be on its way to catch up and overtake them? In other words, Latins may have had a head start thanks to better diets and climate, but once modern lifestyle allows a more varied diet, regular holidays in the sun and plenty of physical exercice for northerners, the gap would shrink and Nordics would eventually live longer.

    To verify this, I checked the evolution of life expectancy (OECD data) in Nordic vs Latin countries + Greece.

    Country 1970 2015 Increase % of weekly PA
    Spain 72.00 years 83.00 years +11.00 years 46%
    Iceland 74.00 years 82.50 years +8.50 years 70%
    France 72.20 years 82.40 years +10.20 years 49%
    Italy 72.00 years 82.60 years +10.60 years 26%
    Norway 74.40 years 82.40 years +8.00 years 70%
    Sweden 74.80 years 82.30 years +7.50 years 71%
    Portugal 66.70 years 81.20 years +14.50 years 35%
    Greece 73.80 years 81.10 years +7.50 years 23%
    Denmark 73.30 years 80.80 years +7.50 years 74%

    The data shows that the opposite is true. Countries that don't exercice too much, including Italy and Portugal, gained the most years of life expectancy. Nordic countries and Greece gained the least years of life expectancy. Danish people exercice the most and have the lowest life expectancy in these countries.

    There are of course many factors influencing life expectancy. Regarding nutrition, Italian, Swedish and Norwegian people drink the least alcohol, and Portuguese the most. Yet the Portuguese got the bigger boost in life expectancy. The highest meat consumption per capita in Europe is in Spain, while Norway has one of the lowest. Yet Spaniards live longer. Sweden has a lot of vegetarians, while Portugal and Spain hardly have any. Ditto. Obesity is higher in France and Spain than in Scandinavia. Diabetes is the highest in Portugal among the countries listed above.

    Cancer rates have no influence of regional variations in life expectancy either. They are high in Denmark, moderate in Norway and low in Sweden, relatively high in France, moderate in Italy and Portugal and low in Spain. Heart disease rates are not very different between these countries and are actually lower in Denmark than in Italy.

    You can check all the health-related maps of Europe I made. There is just no simple way to explain why Latin Europeans increased their life expectancy faster than Nordic people. The best correlation seems to be the evolution of GDP per capita, but money itself does not make people live longer. It must be correlated with something that increase together with wealth. Yet Nordic countries are on top of almost every measurable aspect of well being in Europe. They are the happiest, have the highest Human Development Index, the best democracies, the lowest socio*economic inequalities, the best education and welfare systems, exercice the most... But even projections for life expectancy say that the Danes are not going to overtake the Italians, French, Spaniards or even Portuguese for life expectancy in the coming decades. The question is why?
    interesting statistics, thank you for sharing

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    Exercise makes your heart and muscles stronger and fending off a host of diseases, it can also improve your mental and emotional functioning and even bolster your productivity and close relationships.

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